Half of the world’s 10 dirtiest cities are located in territories that once made up the Soviet Union. The rest are scattered across Africa, Central and South America and India. The most reliable source for the data is a 2006 report by the Blacksmith Institute (an environmental research group). The listing is alphabetical and rated by pollution levels in air, water and ground in more than 300 cities that were studied.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/03/21/worldsdirty_1.jpg Chernobyl, Ukraine
Chernobyl is famous for its long list of pollutants: uranium, plutonium, radioactive iodine, cesium-137, strontium and other heavy or radioactive metals. The amount of radiation leaked was 100 times the levels released in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chernobyl’s 135,000 citizens have been evacuated, and there is a 19-mile exclusion zone where no one lives. It is hard to get dirtier that that.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/03/21/worldsdirty_2.jpg Dzerzinsk, Russia
Dzerzinsk has a population of 300,000, and they are all at risk from Cold War-type chemical weapons manufacture, storage and bad disposal that amount to a ton of chemical wastes for each Dzerzinsk citizen. Toxic chemicals in ground water have contributed to a death rate 2.6 times the birth rate. It is clearly not a good place to love or die.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/03/21/worldsdirty_3.jpg Haina, Dominican Republic
Haina could be called the capital of lead poisoning for its 85,000 citizens and most particularly for those in the area known as Bajos de Haina. A former battery plant has caused high soil and blood levels of lead (in blood this amounts to lead poisoning). The good news is that there is concerted action to improve the situation.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/03/21/worldsdirty_4.jpg Kabwe, Zambia
Kabwe is Zambia’s second-largest city, with 250,000 citizens. High levels of lead poisoning are brought about by concentrated mining of lead-bearing ore. Children in Kabwe may have five to 10 times the EPA’s allowable limit.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/03/21/worldsdirty_5.jpg La Oroya, Peru
A poly-metallic smelter has exposed La Oroya citizens to toxic emissions for decades. This has resulted in high lead levels in the blood of the children of the city of 35,000. Nearly 100% of the children are over-exposed. The city also suffers from sulfur dioxide emissions, and this has killed the surrounding vegetation.